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The Advocate

Gospel Reading: Jn 14:15-21
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

“I want to see God!” Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was so inspired by the lives of the martyrs that at the age of nine she was already longing to die a martyr’s death (cf Vida, 1, 4). Although she would not die a martyr, this girl’s desire changed her life completely. She would become an influential figure in the Catholic Church, bringing about reform by her example and writings. We now venerate this woman as St. Teresa of Avila.

St. Teresa’s experience shows how the lives of the martyrs – ordinary people who shed their blood in testimony to their faith – shape the Church. It is said that the Church is watered by the blood of the martyrs. The First Reading attests to this. Philip, one of the seven deacons chosen by the Apostles (cf Acts 6:5), was succeeding in his proclamation of the Good News in Samaria. This was the first fruit of the persecutions experienced by the early Christians.

Why would martyrdom, a seeming show of weakness and defeat, cause a positive effect upon the faithful?

The Gospel provides the answer. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (v 15). Jesus declares that authentic love is expressed not by words but by deeds. “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me” (v 21). Only through generous and faithful self-giving and through obedience to God’s will is true love shown.

In the Second Reading, Peter exhorts Christians to “be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (v 15), “keeping your conscience clear” (v 16). To suffer for doing good is better than for doing evil (cf v 17).

Moreover, in the Gospel, Jesus promises “another Advocate” (v 16). Christ is our Advocate and Mediator before God, yet upon his ascension he sends someone to be on our side – the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit accompanies, consoles, protects, and defends us. The Spirit casts away our fears and empowers us to make a stand for what is right and good.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.